After 20 years of service in the United States Navy, Bert Hodge, general manager at Heritage Ford in Southern Indiana, understands what it takes to manage complexity and risk. As a staff analyst commanding five different warships, Hodge learned that mission success is all about communication – the ability to share information seamlessly between people, ships, and stations.
Now, with his military experience as a foundation, Hodge has helped implement a similar philosophy at Heritage, where teamwork and a focus on communication has allowed the business to navigate the complex waters of the auto sales industry.
“The sea is an unforgiving environment,” Hodge said. “Whether venturing out alone or coordinating operations between multiple ships, there is a tremendous amount of risk and complexity. There are a number of different functions that have to be performed by different individuals that have to be properly coordinated. Being able to share information seamlessly between stations is critical. Mission success is derived from the fusion of those diverse information sources.”
“I find the same to be true for dealerships,” he continued. “Our mission is to provide value that our customers seek in purchasing, maintaining, and repairing vehicles. In doing so, my staff members perform a number of different functions that require close coordination.”
To help with this mission, Hodge and Heritage Ford needed a technology that could integrate people, processes, and products. And, in researching different DMS options, Hodge found that most products were great in concept, but failed in execution. But, with Dealertrack DMS, Heritage Ford found a provider that was as committed to communication, coordination, and the success of the dealership as its team members. Dealertrack DMS has allowed Heritage to integrate a number of different industry task-related software tools. And, with its simple interface and intuitive design, it keeps employees focused on customers instead of tech problems.
“I have been very careful to choose tools that allow information to flow freely,” Hodge said. “I want my staff to focus on helping our customers, not struggling with using the DMS.”
With a commitment to ongoing communication and support from Dealertrack, Hodge knows that, even in the complex and uncertain market of auto sales, Heritage Ford will continue to gain valuable insights from its information as needs evolve.
“In the past 5 years, there has been a tremendous change in markets,” Hodge said. “Increased competition has resulted in reduced margins. If I have the correct view of the industry, the pace of change will increase. Success will continue to come from insights derived from our data,” he added. “It is vital that (we’re) not hindered by (our) DMS.”
“For me, it’s nice not to have to worry about whether or not our most foundational tool, our DMS, will keep pace … and help us navigate the changes ahead.”
To learn more about Heritage Ford’s story and the value of technology integration within a dealership, read Dealertrack’s full case study.